Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ordinary Sweaters: Lord Cardigan

Bold, understated authority — that's what the Cardigan is all about. "Uh hm, I'm listening. We have 10 more minutes. Go on." Meet Dr. Tyrone C. Berger, Conrad Jarret's sympathetic psychiatrist. The Cardigan sweater has a buttoned-down bookish appeal. But on a darker note it was originally intended as British military garb worn in the bloody battle of the Crimea (1853-1856). The killing fields of Balaclava looked like a Mensa massacre.

Named after Gen. James Thomas Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, the worsted knit Cardigan Jacket found it's way to the front during the Charge of the Light Brigade. Although British Army officers were valiantly outfitted, the Crimean War went fabulously wrong. Fashion designer Coco Channel revived the Cardigan's popularity with a soft women's two-piece ensemble (circa 1925) but it was children's TV host Fred Rogers who influenced Generation Text — one button at a time. He convinced them that they were special by just being them, so they now have no real goals other than being themselves. The cardigan is a 20-somethings unisex symbol of comfort, and short term employment. Nice going Fred, you SOB. You were a terrible liar.
Cardigan (above left) J Pick & Sons Ltd, c.1915; Fred Rogers (lower right)

Look out, we've got a jumper! Check out Dr. Burger’s open-faced jumper made of 50/50 steel gray wool and acrylic. In this scene Dr. Burger shoulders the burden of Calvin Jarret who wanted to discuss Conrad’s disintegrating relationship with his mother, Beth. In doing so Calvin found he was there for himself — all in the first 10 minutes. Now that’s good a therapist! This over-sized shawl collar Cardigan is great for softening broad shoulders or obscuring a vein-popping, sobbing neck. It’s as cool and as reliable as Dr. Berger himself.

The open face of a Cardigan begs for one to be truthful and sincere — or at least look that way. Thats why you rarely see one worn in Civil Court. In this scene Conrad has just received notice that fellow patient, Karen, had abruptly ended her life after previous attempts — this time it was for real. But he did not mourn for Karen, he mourned for a part of himself that died so long ago, a part that was over shadowed by the death of his older brother Bud. Exhausted from his epiphany he finally collapses into the supportive kindness of this warm taupe single-cable arms of Dr. Burger.

Conrad has realized that after enduring all this guilt, Bud’s untimely death was not his fault — despite what his mother said. As their Sunfish capsized on that dark and stormy night, Bud could no longer hold on to Conrad's hand. He lost his grip slipping into the raging surf and drowned. "You were the stronger one Conrad. Now let go of me, you're hurting my spine."

A new dawn arrived for everyone. With his collar up, Calvin greeted the day in his cream saddle shoulder Cardigan. "The yard looks so small without the leaves" "Dad, wheres mom?" "I dont know Conney... maybe at her mothers?" In the wee hours of the morning Calvin tearfully confessed to Beth that he wasn’t sure if he loved her anymore — that she had become ineffectual, cold, and uncaring. As the sun peaked over their tree lined driveway Beth climbed into a cab. The future seemed uncertain, but very fashionable. Conrad warmly embraced his father just as 2 X 2 ribs decrease and meet at seam. "Conney... you can let go of me now, you're hurting my spine." It must be that Cardigan. Fini.

Source: Paramount Pictures

Ordinary Sweaters Part 1: Meet the Jarrets
Ordinary Sweaters Part 2: Laying Cable
Ordinary Sweaters Part 3: The Yokes on Her
Ordinary Sweaters Part 4: Lord Cardigan


Suzanne said...

the whole "ordinary sweaters" series had me in stitches (pardon)... and alsomade me hyper-aware of the possible hidden meanings of people's knitwear ... then last week that my therapist -- normally quite fashionably attired -- elected to wear an old, oatmeal-colored pullover (handknit somewhere in china) that shocked me with it's insane level of pilly-ness--what can it mean? thanks!

The Yarn Monkey said...

Hmmmm. I think she's trying to psych you out. Or maybe the sweater made its way up the dry-cleaning rotation.